Skip to Main Content

Designing Effective Posters: Adding and Revising Content: InDesign

Learn how to design and publish effective posters. This guide includes sections on design elements, the poster design process, and using software to create posters.

Setting the workspace

For beginners just starting to use InDesign (and even for seasoned veterans), setting up the workspace makes the experience easier.  In the top right corner of InDesign, you will find a drop down box which may say Essentials.

Screen shot of the Workspace drop down menu in InDesign

The different workspace settings will show specific tools and sidebar menus.  The best workspace for the beginner is Essentials Classic.  When you select Essentials Classic, you will see the full tools menu and the right hand sidebar with access to the most used items.

Screen shot of the Essentials Classic right side menu in InDesign

Select menu options for selected tools will be at the top of the artboard.


Creating Text

Click and drag with Text tool to create a text box (also called a text frame). Then type, or copy and paste text from another application (such as Word).

Screen shot of the Text Tookl, Text Box, and Text Format bar in InDesign

To change the formatting of text, first select the text, then change the features in the Text Format bar at the top of the artboard. This bar will also allow you to change fonts, size, and spacing of characters.

Moving and resizing text frames

Click on the Selection tool (Screen shot of the selection tool in InDesign )       ) in the Toolbox.

Text frame

To resize text frame, click and drag the text frame handles with the Selection tool. To move the text frame, drag the edge of the frame with the Selection tool

Adding bullets to paragraphs

To add a bullet to a paragraph, click in the paragraph, then click on the hamburger menu at the top right of the screen.

Screen shot of the location of the Hamburger menu in InDesign

From the menu, select Bullets and Numbering.

Screen shot of the Hamburger menu opened in InDesign

In the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, choose Bullets from the List Type dropdown menu, and enter values for the other options in the dialog box. Then click OK.

Screen shot of the Bullets and Numbering menu in InDesign 

Working with Paragraph Styles

It is not necessary to use paragraph styles, but they can help you to ensure that the formatting of your text and headings is consistent throughout the poster.

To Create Paragraph Styles:

Format a paragraph the way you want.  Make sure the item is selected.

Choose the Paragraph menu sidebar.  Click on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen to create a new style.  Double click on the Paragraph Style menu item that was just created.

Screen shot of the Paragraph menu in InDesign

Enter a name for the style In the New Paragraph Style dialog box, and make any additional changes you want to the paragraph style.

Screen shot for the paragraph styles options in InDesign

Click OK.

To apply a style to a paragraph:

Click anywhere in the paragraph. Then click on the style name in the Paragraph Styles menu.

Wrapping Text Around Objects

To wrap your text around an image, first create the text box and fill in the text.  Click File > Place to add the image where you would like it to appear.  Scale the image and keep it selected.  From the right sidebar, select Text Wrap.  If it is not showing in the sidebar, click Window > Text Wrap.

Screen shot of the Text Wrap menu in InDesign

To have the text flow around the image, select the third option (the diamond with lines around it).  Set the Wrap Options to the side you want the text flow around.  You can set the padding for the image.

Screen shot of text flowing to the right of a round image

Images and Graphics

Working with Images and Graphics

Inserting an image or graphic:

Choose File>Place. Then browse to the file and choose it.  The image will be attached to the cursor.  Click where you would like to place the image and draw out how large you would like the image to be.

Resizing an image or graphic:

Click on the object with the selection tool ( Screen shot of the InDesign Selection tool         ) to select it. Then right click on the image or select Object > Transform > Scale


Screen shot of the Object, Transform, Scale options in InDesign

In the dialog box, change the values for Scale X and Scale Y to resize the image.

Screen shot of the Scale menu in InDesign

Adding a drop shadow:

Select a graphic or text frame. Choose Object > Effects > Drop Shadow, you can also right click on the image and select Effects > Drop Shadow. Adjust the settings in the Drop Shadow dialog box to you liking, and click OK.

Screen shot of the Object, Effects menu in InDesign

Grouping multiple objects:

First, press shift while clicking on objects to select them.

Choose Object > Group, you can also right click on the image and select Group from the menu. You can then manipulate the group as if it is a single object.

Screen shot of the Group option in InDesign



Exporting and Printing Your Poster

Exporting your Poster to PDF Format

Many print shops prefer (or require) that you submit print jobs in portable document format (.pdf). To save a copy of your poster as a pdf, choose File menu > Adobe PDF Presets >.  In most cases [High Quality Print] is a good option for saving a file that you want to print on a high-quality printer.

Screen shot of the Edit, PDF printing options in InDesign

If you do not plan to print the poster yourself, see the "Printing Your Poster" page of this guide.